In the past, when asked “where do you see yourself in 5 years time?” I have never been able to answer. My life has been so disorganised and unplanned that to see that far ahead was inconceivable. Lack of ambition is a major flaw of mine, as is lack of confidence and drive which do not help either. So you can imagine my surprise, when I realised the other day that my life is actually much improved since five years ago, without me even noticing!
I used to measure success in terms of what type of jobs people have and how much money they earned. But there are lots of other factors to take into account which a makes for a fulfilling life. Money is important, of course and I have had plenty of experience of being without.
Having a career where you have status and respect from fellow colleagues is always of benefit; not being embarrassed to admit what you “do for a living” is a big one for me. There have been times, for no fault of my own, where I have been unemployed and there is nothing so soul destroying.
Family is very important and I am blessed in this department, with an abundance of offspring but some people are not so lucky, I realise. Family are our support network, our raison d’être, although they can be a pain in the neck at times! In the last five years the amount of grandchildren I have has doubled to four and there are now three girls in the family, which I was never able to manage, so I am very happy about that. I am also reunited with my estranged cousin, who lives in Majorca, which is fantastic because we used to be such good friends and are again now.
Friends are another essential part of our network. How many of us rely on them for support, companionship and assertion? I think most of us have at least a handful of true friends that we can put in this category and most of us, many more. Mine are still intact five years later and I am making some more.
Relationships of the romantic kind are high up there on the list of essentials. A good home-life balance makes for happier people, I believe. Although I also know a lot of people who live alone quite happily; better to live with the right person or not at all, is my philosophy. There has been no change in the last five years for me, so I guess I must be with the right person!
When you apply for a new job or college course, why is it that they ask you about your hobbies? Does it say a lot about the kind of person you are by how you spend your spare time? I had a think about it and I think it does. My two main hobbies are writing and travelling (that won’t be any surprise to those of you who regularly read my blogs!). Writing is the main area in my life that has seen the biggest change. And I started five years ago. I have improved so much since I started and it is a big part of my life now. I don’t talk much about it to my non writing friends, but now I have several “writing” friends who see me, foremost, as a writer.
To me, that is real progress. I feel that something defines me for the first time in my life. That probably sounds a bit dramatic but I have been waiting for something that I could be good at (even though there is a long way to go yet!) and be accepted by my writing peers.
My other passion is travelling. I have not been in the position, financially, to travel far afield before. But now, since my divorce settlement, I have taken some really fantastic long haul trips and there are more to come. If I look back to five years ago, I could only afford one week in Wales, although I did enjoy it. So far, in the last two years, I have realised a dream to visit New York, have been to a wedding in Mexico and been on a tour of Cuba. In six weeks time I am going storm chasing in America, so I feel very lucky indeed.
But the biggest achievement, in terms of earning a living is, that after a bout of losing three jobs in as many years, I have managed to stay in employment for three and a half years by my own means. I set myself up as a self employed cleaner, in itself not a perfect job, I know, but at least I have been in control of my own destiny and all the money I have earned, I have earned myself, without the help from anybody else. I am embarrassed to admit I am a cleaner sometimes but am pleasantly surprised when people say I shouldn’t put my self down. This time 5 years ago I was working two jobs and clocking up over fifty hours a week; now I only work twenty six and a half!
I cannot stay a cleaner forever though, so with that in mind, I decided I need to retrain. My poor body won’t be able to take the physical stain of being on my feet all day; the knees creak and the back groans and I can’t draw my retirement pension until I’m 66. I racked my brain and come up with the idea of being a counsellor. I found some courses that would fit in with my work schedule of four days a week and found one that I could do on my day off. I applied and to my surprise, they accepted me! There was a part on the application that asked what my hobbies were. I’m wondering if they were impressed that I write?
So the long and short of it is: next time I am asked “where do you see yourself in 5 years time” I hope to say that I should be a qualified counsellor by then.
And the icing on the cake would be to have some of my writing published.